CSS is a layout code format. When used with a web page, it formats text, colours backgrounds and positions elements in the layout and more besides. A new standard is developing within the CSS framework commonly known as CSS3. This is a major update to the original 2.1 standard which has been around now for several years.
So what does this mean for website owners? well it can mean several things, the possibility of faster websites by replacing many common design elements perviously constructed with the use of images like rounded corners or background gradients can now be executed with a few lines of code. This leaves the user with a better faster experience and allows for richer content to replace the bandwidth that was taken up by construction images and backgrounds etc.
Small web pages? does it really matter in the days of broadband?... well yes we think it does. Smaller pages take less energy to serve and download to your computer, saving on the power required to view the page and thus doing your bit to save the planet! Its a no brainer really.
In the days of dial-up internet we were all conscious of page size watching the download bar inch slowly when you visited a bloated website. Now the sky's the limit with a 2Mb page not uncommon.
We like to squeeze the last out of each site to ensure slimmer faster websites that are lean and tasked to the job. Google also hinted some time ago that it will begin to penalise larger pages in its search results for this same reason. It is said that alarmingly a search on Google is equivelant to boiling a kettle! So Google is very concious of power consumption as a result are encouraging and rewarding developers and site owners who build slimmer pages.
In some ways this makes things harder for the designer because older web browsers like Internet Explorer 6 & 7 do not always recognise the new css code meaning that part of the page may will not look as it was intended. So the corners of a box will be square not round because that is a new CSS3 feature. This can mean extra effort must be put in to cater for legacy browsers so that the website is still usable and fit for purpose, even for users who still have old browsers installed on their systems.
So the question... should this stop the use of new CSS features now? When used correctly we think not and will actively be using CSS3 where possible to replace images and older bloated page elements where possible. By using progressive enhancement methods that are safe and tested in older browsers the use of CSS3 is possible now.
At time of writing the IE 6 browser is nine years old. Time for users and system administrators to update I think or switch to Google Chrome or Firefox. You will be missing the best internet experience once CSS3 and other coding advances take hold! if you dont.